CD: Maggie you are known for searching out and discovering some amazing talent. Tell me a bit about your history, where you came from, what led you to Charleston and to what many consider, one of the finest magazines for editorial photographers.
Maggie Brett Kennedy: Wow, what an incredible compliment! My grandfather and mother were both professional photographers so it must be genetic. I’m originally from North Carolina but spent almost a decade in San Francisco immersed in the food and still life photography world as a creative director with Williams-Sonoma. I was exposed to some amazing talent in terms of photographers, stylists, chefs, etc. I decided to return to my Southern roots and landed in Charleston which is an incredibly creative town. I was fortunate enough to meet Rebecca Darwin who founded Garden & Gun magazine seven years ago. I signed on from day one and it’s been incredible to see the brand develop from the first issue put together by only a handful of people.
CD: What is your own personal photographic history? Do you shoot? What led you to photography and editing?
Maggie Brett Kennedy: I studied journalism and photography back in the stone age but I’ve always been on the editing/art direction side of the business. I’ve enjoyed photographing a little bit of everything for myself personally but leave the real work to the professionals. I enjoy the entire process of putting together a magazine issue. It’s incredible when you pair a well thought out photographer with a subject and a little magic happens. It’s a great feeling when an assignment goes well and it always shows in the photographer’s edit.
CD: What are the factors that lead you to take a chance on a young photographer? Is it feel, experience, personal projects, referrals or just a vibe? If it is just a sense, what is that sense, that unknown factor that you feel will be a right fit for you and for the magazine?
Maggie Brett Kennedy: I’m a big proponent of working with up and coming photographers as well as seasoned talent. It’s important to me keep a nice mix in every issue of G&G. I learn about young photographers from promos received, blogs, referrals, other publications (I have a bit of a magazine and quarterly addiction!), anywhere. I’m constantly following photographers and creating relationships. Then the stars align with a gut instinct and the right assignment. Very much a sense or feeling partnered with research. I’m a big fan of checking out photographer’s personal work and applying that into the G&G world.
CD: Living, breathing and feeling the south is very different from the bubble of photography in New York City. How does this favor your choice of photographers for a story? What I am getting at, is it closer to the truth when you use a photographer who is from the region or has a deeper understanding of the subject or history?
Maggie Brett Kennedy: This is a great question and something that I actually do think about on a regular basis. I’ve been privileged to build an incredible stable of photographers throughout the South. And of course, New York is bursting with creative shooters. Sometimes the way to approach an assignment is with a photographer that is based in the South, other times I like to send in a shooter that can view the South from an outside perspective. It creates an incredible variety of imagery.
CD: Garden and Gun is known for large images, available light and sometimes, Black and White? Do you work with photographers who shoot only film or use older alternative processes? If so, not for the gimmick of it, but a deep true style that conveys a deeper sense of truth or purpose?
Maggie Brett Kennedy: I love film. I love digital. G&G has always followed a photography friendly format – sometimes a subject still calls for film in this digital age. Film has a depth that can’t be reached with digital. G&G continues to print on quality paper stock which is wonderful for reproduction. We do like to mix color and black and white imagery within one story if it adds a nice extra layer visually. To me, gives G&G an additional depth visually.
CD: What personal promotions have you received that you felt were unusual, distinctive or connected with you. I’d like to highlight those photographers.
Maggie Brett Kennedy:
- Adam Ewing’s
- Cheryl Zibisky – each year Cheryl puts together a beautiful calendar for her clients. It stays on my desk and is a reminder of her work throughout the year. Nice design
- Randal Ford
- Redux Pictures puts out a nice looking tabloid-size newspaper quarterly. It highlights a selection of their talented photographers with large images and minimal type.
- Jody Horton – last December email blast. Straight and to the point and a wonderful way to highlight a variety of work in one quick hit.